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SWEDISH, BUT MADE IN AMERICA--Gunda Starkey fell in love with her house long before it belonged to her.
Like a cottage straight from Europe’s old country, this summer getaway offered
a new home to someone who could embrace and preserve cabin architecture.
"As soon as I walked in the front door and saw the living room logs, stone
fireplace, the high ceiling, I loved it. It looked so warm and cozy," she
COLORADO TOUR OF ARTS & CRAFTS ARCHITECTURE --While most people recognize a Victorian home, or a Frank Lloyd Wright early
modernist gem, there’s another period of architecture sandwiched between these
two weighty styles. Oddly enough, it was more pervasive than
either Victorian or Wright’s influences. We'll take a tour of this period with
expert Robert Rust.
FOR HUMANITY--At Front Range Living, we write about historic homes, modern retro
marvels, quaint cottages and cozy cabins. Our houses are modest or grand, but
each comes with a compelling story. A house, after all, is the architecture we
wrap around us and call home. It was just a matter of time before approaching
the Habitat for Humanity organization. Providing decent housing for over 175,000
families since 1976, Habitat for Humanity nestles homes all around us. Often we
don’t notice them. They don’t stand out. That’s the point.
RENEWAL: HOME IN THE CITY: When architect Norman Cable bought a home in
the heart of Denver, he put a down payment on an 1876 Italianate two-story
house and with that, an investment in optimism. The old house had survived
boarder disrepair and neglect. But sagging floor joists and boxy rooms
couldn't obscure wood floors, high windows, tall doors with transom
windows and an elegant fireplace.
HISTORIC ADOBE IS RENEWED AND RESTORED: Nestled in a canyon at the foothills of Colorado Springs sits a
rectangular adobe. Whitewashed by the sun, shaded by a large tree and flanked by three small
patios, the house dates to 1895, when few surrounding houses existed. Such a
simple dwelling, once owned by the original
Broadmoor Resort tycoon, Spencer Penrose, invites speculation.
THROUGH A ROSE WINDOW: Jim Clark moved into a Denver condo several
years ago—not an unusual occurrence unless you consider that his condo is
located inside an historic church. He’s been singing praises ever since.
"I almost missed it because I couldn’t find it," he says about the
1889 stone church, "I looked at forty other places, but they didn’t
compare. I walked in the front door and realized this was the place. I
put an offer on it the next day."
HOMESTEAD MUSEUM: It’s always a surprise to find 100-year-old log homes weathered and
scarred, but upright, fit and useful. After all, Colorado’s mountains have
been swept by fire and floods—hardly a benign environment to preserve rustic
log architecture. Against the odds, Hiwan Homestead Museum, nestled in the
Evergreen community, dates to the 1890s and remains a solid, comfortable
building. Tightly constructed, this informal home is so lovingly maintained that
even the floors don’t creak.
MANSION: AN ARTS & CRAFTS CLASSIC -- In 1917, business tycoon
Charles Boettcher built a game preserve in the mountains outside Denver.
The air was cool, the vistas breathtaking and, far from urban noises,
city life receded. Nearly 100 years later, the casual visitor to the
mansion embraces much the same experience.
BUNGALOW: MOVED, RENOVATED AND REBORN -- To see Cottage 811 tucked among a circle of cabins at Chautauqua in Boulder,
Colorado, appears to be a historic cottage bungalow nestled among the brethren.
A collection of cabins that have accumulated over 100 years, Colorado’s
Chautauqua is the only remnant west of the Mississippi River that remains from a
remarkable national assortment of Chautauquas.
QUEST FOR THE AUTHENTIC -- Touring
a Victorian home is much like looking into a jewelry box. Beaded lamps with
fringed shades and cut-class baubles instead of cameos. China sets for
lemonade or chocolate rather than garnet rings. Silver sets of combs and
brushes. Wreathes from bird feathers, velvet tea cozies, silver tea sets
and marble topped walnut furniture. Victorian women loved to festoon
themselves with decoration and the same impulse guided their choices for
MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY: A timber-frame house, like the name suggests,
hangs from a skeleton of thick planks, much like a suit on a hanger. Posts
and beams form a formidable structure of joints that mortise together
without nails. An old concept that remains popular, the timberframe's
rugged strength and massive wooden architecture relies upon a handsome
proportion of massive beams and light. That's why, in 1998, when Eric and
Linza Douglas cleared land for a new home in the mountains, a timberframe
fit their choice for a rustic retreat.
PRESERVATIONISTS BUY A HOME OF THEIR OWN -- When
homebuyers chance upon the house of their dreams, they'll often reflect
that it was the handcrafted wood paneling or gingerbread trim that sold
them. Perhaps the spiral staircase captured their fancy. Or, a fascinating
past of the dwelling stirred their souls. When architects who design for
historic preservation go house hunting, basic instincts are no different.
Kathy Hoeft and Gary Long, architects who specialize in 19th century
stopped for a cup of coffee in a mountain town and the found the home of
VICTORIANS -- Georgetown
can slip right by motorists on Highway I-70. It's a blip of a town on a
road that snakes through ski country in Colorado. Tourists and Colorado
residents may have heard of the Georgetown Loop Railroad, the choice for earlier transportation. But if they speed by, they'll miss the true jewels
of the historic district. If you're looking for architecture with flounce,
filigree and whimsy, Georgetown is the destination. What once was a
boomtown of silver mining in the late 1800s is now the mother lode of
DERELICT TO CINDERELLA -- Any homeowner who has renovated
a house will relate a list of miseries
that accompanied the thrill of transformation--expensive, drawn out, disruptive,
exhausting—even in the best of circumstances. In the worst of circumstances,
imagine resurrecting a ghost of a house, a structure so depleted that gaps allow
the wind to whistle through, where rain seeps into every crevice and tear, where
foundations rot and floor joists sit on dirt. Usually a house is demolished when
time has eroded a dwelling that is derelict and over 100 years old.
FEVER -- We all hear stories about how a house has changed a life. Usually it’s a villa in Italy, or an apartment in Paris. A writer or a
restaurant critic chances upon a locale that soothes spirits and
rejuvenates careers. Homes have the power to create memories. Do they also
have the power to transform lives? Perhaps they do. For Ted Warren, a primitive cabin—not a
villa or penthouse—changed his life forever.
OLD AND NEW -- At the foot of a bluff in Trinidad, Colorado, Jennifer Green’s adobe house
is near completion, a new house in a region that has birthed adobe homes for
over 100 years. The canyon is residence to a peaceable kingdom of wildlife,
horses, dogs and tabby cat as well as a landscape of cacti, sagebrush and
yucca. Using her own hands, the petite third-grade teacher shaped, hoisted and
placed brick after brick and now knows the painful truth about adobe dwellings:
"They’re cheap, but labor intensive," she says grimly, "you’re
better off with a crew."
COLORADO COTTAGE -- "My house and garden,
together, is the size of your thumb," says Lawrie Diack Wilson,
about her 1,200 square-foot cottage and surrounding garden. As individual as a thumbprint,
as intimate as the palm of her hand, Lawrie's home is a patch of whimsy,
a storybook setting on a handkerchief-sized plot of land. Twenty-two years ago, when Lawrie spent a year looking for a house she could
afford, she knew that restoring a turn-of-the-century cottage was right for her.
FARMHOUSE -- Julee Herdt is an architect and assistant
professor at the University of Colorado at Denver. She's also a
self-described green evangelist who champions eco-friendly buildings. Her most recent project--a 3900-square foot home--
shows what can be built for about one third of average construction costs.
FIFTIES -- Glance at the
National Register of Historic Places, which notes remarkable buildings
and neighborhoods in America, and you'll find plenty of Colonial town
squares and elegant Victorian streets. We're accustomed to anything over
100 years old becoming a revered site. So it's all the more jolting to
realize a neighborhood just south of Denver, in Englewood, is also
listed on the Register. It dates to the 1950s, the first neighborhood in
the United States to be listed from that era.
TUDOR -- Many British-influenced homes have made way for office buildings and
housing developments. The grandest of the hotels adapted and
flourished. But you’ll have to search to find the old Tudor and neo-Gothic
styles so beloved by the British and imported to Colorado by Easterners.
Tudor-inspired Hoverhome in Longmont has survived through the serendipity of the
St. Vrain Historical Society and now is open to the public.
VICTORIAN UPDATE -- Victorian homes exude self-confidence. Like prima donnas on the operatic
stage, they fill a street with character. It's easy to succumb to their charms. As
familiar as a grandmother, as fragile as an aging screen star, we cherish them and
hope they’ll live forever. That’s why fans of Victoriana brace themselves for steep prices and lengthy
makeovers, as one family did when they took on an 1890 Shingle-style home in the
foothills of Colorado.
CABINS -- Community. Family. Kinship. The 100 or so Chautauqua cottages
in Boulder, Colorado, are like family members. Each one has its own
personality, but they resemble one another in the way that relatives often
Maintained for more than a century, Chautauqua started as way to bring
culture--classes, lectures, concerts and the like--to rural
communities across the nation.
IT EVER SO HUMBLE -- Architect Jim Marsden is checking the progress of his
patient. It’s an early twentieth century home facing surgery: a garage job,
total family room and rear master bedroom lift. This modest family home has had years rolled
back to reveal the roots of a Colorado Craftsman style. Jim admires the river rock
foundations, the wide front porch with tapered pillars. Added rooms may have
turned a modest home into a larger, modern day showpiece. But it’s
the materials and carpentry--river rocks, bricks, woodwork and built-in
shelves that link this home to its humble origin.